The 21-Minute Virus

2020-08-23 - 6:12 am

Bahrain Mirror (Exclusive): Only 20 minutes is the time allowed for Husseini obsequies (religious congregation halls) to broadcast live their mourning ceremony during Ashura this year. After the 20-minute mark, these obsequies will be considered to be violating the law, and the authorities will shut them down for 3 years, fining them 10,000 dinars. The preacher reciting the mourning ritual will be held accountable by the ministry.

Is this a riddle or a joke?

Can a simple mind see any connection between this decision and what the Bahraini authorities call precautions to prevent the spread of Coronavirus? What is the relation between the time of the live broadcast and the spread of the disease, especially since the authorities imposed a condition that the number of people attending the obsequy should be limited to the preacher and the technical staff specialized in live broadcasting while following all precautionary measures?

Moreover, the same authorities sponsored an art-related ceremony held on August 13, 2020 in Arad Fort, organized by the Bahrain Authority for Culture and Antiquities. The ceremony was held by a Bahraini folk band of more than 20 men and women, who performed dances without masks and with no social distancing. They didn't even take into consideration any health precautions. The authorities didn't stop this event under the precautionary measures pretext. On the contrary, they broadcast it live on Bahrain TV and on the radio channel. They did not specify a time for the event and did not limit it to 20 minutes of live broadcasting, as it remained for more than an hour on air.

This is how the authorities are when they want something. These are the same authorities that decided to open gyms, swimming pools, restaurants, bars and discos and allowed gatherings in concert halls of up to 20 people, under the condition of adhering to health precautions.

Yes, it is the same government that has allowed all of this, and we have no objection to what it allows in the light of the necessary precautions. However, it is not acceptable to be lenient when it wants, and strict (suddenly caring for the safety and security of citizens) when it wants. It is also not acceptable that it becomes strict only when it comes to the partial and well-thought-out opening of mosques and Husseiniyas, despite the commitment of their administrations to take full adherence to the health precautions. This cannot be accepted or tolerated, because it has turned into a deliberate attempt to take advantage of the pandemic.

What is happening in Bahrain now shows that the authorities have made the pandemic a selective pretext. It uses the pandemic as an excuse to prevent what it doesn't like and what doesn't match its views, and to allow what it likes. The Bahraini authorities have made the pandemic a tool in their hateful sectarian-targeting campaign, and in imposing restrictions on the religious freedoms and ideological practices of the Shiite citizens in the country.

The 20-minute time period allowed for the live broadcasting is another silly joke that even the pretext of the pandemic cannot take. This foretells the expected clashes during the upcoming Ashura season which isn't good for anyone, or for the pandemic. 

Arabic Version